Viral Infections during Pregnancy May Trigger Behavioral Abnormalities in Offspring

by Adeline Dorcas on  May 3, 2019 at 1:06 PM Mental Health News
RSS Email Print This Page Comment bookmark
Font : A-A+

Viral infections during pregnancy can significantly affect the brain development of the unborn child and increase the risk of behavioral abnormalities, reports a new study. The findings of the study are published in the journal eNeuro.
Viral Infections during Pregnancy May Trigger Behavioral Abnormalities in Offspring
Viral Infections during Pregnancy May Trigger Behavioral Abnormalities in Offspring

Male and female rats whose mother experienced a simulated viral infection during pregnancy behave abnormally, consistent with behavioral alterations in autism or schizophrenia, research by the University of Saskatchewan (USask) shows.

The USask research found that young adult rats, exposed to a simulated viral infection in utero, displayed abnormal behavior, suggesting specific brain changes while in the womb.

The research by John Howland physiology professor in the College of Medicine, suggests that inflammation during pregnancy alters the brain development of unborn offspring and may predispose them to psychiatric illness, including schizophrenia.

Howland's findings are consistent with human studies linking exposure to inflammation in the womb to increased rates of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and autism.

Previous studies have found that babies whose mothers were exposed to the flu virus during the first half of their pregnancy may face a higher risk of developing schizophrenia in later life.

Schizophrenia, a serious psychiatric illness, affects around one percent of the population. The risk of developing the illness as an adult can be up to three percent among those whose mothers contracted flu in the first half of their pregnancy.

"Members of my laboratory have conducted a number of studies related to the effects of inflammation during pregnancy on the behavior of the offspring using a rat model. Our research, and that of other labs around the world, consistently reveals long-lasting effects of in utero exposure to inflammation in the offspring," Howland said.

Extensive testing of rats exposed to a simulated virus in utero showed that the young adult offspring had reduced working memories and altered fear responses, suggesting that aspects of their cognition were altered.

They were also less sociable with other rats, compared to those whose mothers had not been treated while pregnant.

Howland's team has been studying the impact of maternal immune activation for years and found similar effects in both male and female offspring, exposed to inflammation while in utero. Research has historically been conducted mostly in males.

Brittney Lins, a graduate student and member of the USask research team, said:

"Our research showed that experiences during development affect the brain, and we saw that inflammation during pregnancy affected social behavior and memory in rat offspring as adults."

Source: Eurekalert

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
Notify me when reply is posted
I agree to the terms and conditions
Advertisement

Recommended Reading

More News on:

Trimester of pregnancy Pregnancy and Exercise Home Pregnancy Test Pregnancy Psychological Changes In Pregnancy Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation Breech Presentation and Delivery Air travel: To fly or not to fly Pregnancy and Antenatal Care AIDS and Pregnancy 

News A - Z

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

News Search

Medindia Newsletters

Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Stay Connected

  • Available on the Android Market
  • Available on the App Store

News Category

News Archive